Earlier today, a change to the underlying Ethereum code made by developers some time ago resulted in an unannounced hard fork, effectively splitting the Ethereum blockchain and creating a new version that is valid for upgraded nodes but seen as invalid by ones that did not upgrade. Obviously, this was a major issue for Ethereum users, but it also offered some lessons in the difference between the two largest blockchain networks.
So What Exactly Happened With Ethereum Today?
“OK, so what happened today on Ethereum: 1. At some point Ethereum developers introduced a change in the code that led today to a chain split starting from block 11234873 (07:08 UTC) 2. Those who haven’t upgraded ([blockchain analytics engine Blockhair, Ethereum infrastructure provider Infura,] some miners, and many others) got stuck on a minority chain,” tweeted Blockchair’s lead developer Nikita Zhavoronkov. “Technically, that was an unannounced hard fork… In my opinion, today’s consensus failure in Ethereum shouldn’t be underestimated and should be considered as the most serious issue Ethereum has faced since the DAO debacle four years ago. An investigation is in order.”
The outage caused significant disruption to the Ethereum ecosystem. Major cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and Bithumb disabled ETH and ERC-20 token withdrawals. Infura, a prominent centralized Ethereum node service, suffered a service outage that led to problems for Ethereum wallet MetaMask and for ETH and ERC-20 token price feeds on other services.
It appears that these problems have stemmed from a reckless (“move fast and break things”) approach that Ethereum developers have for their codebase developments that can lead to hard forks that users don’t see coming.
Bitcoin Vs. Ethereum
Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is a decentralized proof-of-work- (PoW) based network. However, unlike in Bitcoin, the Ethereum community and its developers frequently coordinate around non-backwards-compatible hard forks…